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News

Comment period extended to June 26th for possible geothermal leasing in the Santa Fe National Forest

Listen To Staff Attorney, Judy Calman

talk about the dangers of geothermal exploration near our water sheds

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The Santa Fe National Forest recently announced a public scoping period for a Forest Plan amendment which would consider making over 194,000 acres available for leasing for geothermal production immediately to the north and west of Valles Caldera National Preserve.

The area being considered for leasing includes portions of nine Inventoried Roadless Areas and countless water sources, including all the springs visited and loved in the Jemez Ranger District. Inventoried Roadless Areas are places the Forest Service has determined contained wilderness characteristics, but which have not yet been permanently protected as wilderness by Congress.

Not only is the timing wrong with the Santa Fe already going through a Forest Plan revision, it is also inappropriate and out of step with the agency’s mission to consider such a large impact to a forest which is so intensely used by sportsmen, hikers, and backpackers, and which contains wilderness-quality lands.

Goal now is to get the most from monument – LCSN

Editorial: Goal now is to get the most from monument

Las Cruces Sun-News

POSTED:   05/15/2015 01:00:00 AM MDT

There was so much bitter debate leading up to the decision, that it seems hard to believe a full year has passed since President Barack Obama used his powers under the Antiquities Act to designate the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument on May 21, 2014.

The year since then has not brought the calamity monument opponents had warned that it would. The Potrillo Mountains have not been turned into a corridor for illegal drug smuggling. Nor has the year brought us much in terms of tourism growth or enhanced economic development, as had been promised by supporters. Those benefits will come in time, we believe.

There has been some work done on the monument in the past year. New signs were erected by the Bureau of Land Management to designate the new national monument. But, we won’t fully know about the monument’s impacts and benefits until the BLM completes its land use plan, and that is still expected to be years away.

In the meantime, a number of celebrations have been planned for next week to mark the monument’s anniversary. This Saturday and Sunday, the BLM will waive day-use fees at Aguirre Spring Campground and all fees, excluding the group site fee, at Dripping Springs Natural Area/La Cueva. The $7 campsite fee will remain in effect.

Tonight, a celebration will be held at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum with a tribal blessing and the unveiling of the OMDP Achievement badge for Girl Scouts. On Saturday, a hike will be held at the Dripping Springs Natural Area, followed by a big game cookout at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. An interfaith service is planned for Sunday at Dripping Springs.

The Las Cruces City Council is expected to declare today through May 22 as OMDP Celebration Week at its meeting Monday. Other events include a safety talk Tuesday, fiesta at the Mesilla Plaza on Wednesday, art show Thursday at the West End Art Depot and OMDP Monumental Opening Night next Friday for the opening game of the season for the Las Cruces Vaqueros baseball team.

There will also be a focus throughout the week on the potential economic opportunities the new national monument may bring for local businesses, said Carrie Hamblen of the Green Chamber of Commerce.

It took a lengthy effort to persuade the president to declare the monument, and the process was often quite contentious. We appreciate that not everybody in our community will be celebrating next week.

But the monument has been declared. The goal now should be to make the most of it.

Earth Matters / Aldo Leopold Eco Monitors

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In this week’s edition of Earth Matters, co-producer Nathan Newcomer interviews students from the Aldo Leopold Charter School’s Eco-Monitoring Program.

Based in Silver City, Aldo Leopold Charter School launched their Eco-Monitoring program several years ago to give students the opportunity to participate in gathering data in the U.S. National Forest. They discuss much of the important work that the students do, including collecting data on soils, aquatics, range, forest, and wildlife.

They also discuss the importance of educating youth on the importance of conservation work, and how that translates into healthier communities and thriving local economies.

Tune in to this week’s Earth Matters to learn more.

Albuquerque Journal Editorial: Valles Caldera plan a win

Easier and more affordable access is coming to the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains.

And that means more people will be able to enjoy the 89,0000-acre preserve that features stunning mountain peaks, meandering streams, soaring views, vast plains and opportunities to fish, hike and photograph – and when in-season hunt wildlife – on the former Baca Ranch the U.S. government purchased in 2000.

Come October, management of the preserve will pass to the National Park Service. To date it has been managed by a trust, with access limited and expensive.

The new rules and fees were developed in collaboration with the Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and tribal and pueblo partners.

Under the new format approved by the Valles Caldera Trust Board of Trustees, the entrance fee will be $20 per vehicle and $10 per person for hikers or bicyclists – valid for seven days for all self-guided recreational activities including hiking, fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding. Special events, guided hikes, van tours and the use of the headquarters shuttle will also be free with entry.

The Valles Caldera opens Friday. It is a treasure, and care must be taken to preserve its integrity and beauty. But at the same time, the people who own it – U.S. citizens – should get to enjoy it to the extent possible as long as they do so respectfully. This plan looks like a winner from all viewpoints.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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